How do you successfully digitalize your sales force ?
In 2016, more one-third of French companies added a Chief Digital Officer. This new role, which supports the digital transformation of companies, is really taking off and perfectly illustrates the digital revolution under way in the business world. Digitalizing is much more than choosing a mobile, Internet or CRM tool. It is a way of organizing the company’s strategy in conjunction with its marketing and sales objectives. Digitalizing means simplifying, streamlining and boosting productivity. It is a continuous improvement approach that permeates every position within an organization. Digitalizing your sales force is often one of the most important transformations and our four-step guide will help you understand it better. Are you ready to fast-forward into a new era ?
1. Identify initial opportunities and improvements
Before going all-in on a comprehensive project that will be hard to manage, it is important to take a step back to look specifically at the functions or actions that should be digitalized first. The technology affords an opportunity to improve, to become more agile or to boost productivity in a selling, assistance or delivery process. Examples include missing information that regularly affects the act of purchasing, an output that is used poorly or not at all, or a form or process deemed cumbersome, unhelpful or wanting in some other respect. Beyond the improvements you can make to existing tools and techniques, digitalization opens up new horizons. It makes it possible to transform access to information by bringing a form of intelligence to the execution of our requests. This leads to access performance and, consequently, increased consumption of information.
By studying your internal production flows, the stakeholders involved and the impacts on business lines, you will see what to target and with which objectives in order to advance to the second step.
2. Experiment and test
Digitalizing your sales force can be an epic project if you attempt to do everything all at once. If pressured by your management, employees or external constraints, you may be tempted to launch a monumental project, but the risk is proportional to the effort available to invest. Many digitalization projects do not get past the concept phase and some are implemented painfully at an exorbitant cost.
It is essential that you prepare your launch with a comprehensive strategy. This will give you an outline to which you can apply your segmented approach. The goal is to begin by targeting a well-managed subset of specific functions whose digitalization will deliver fast, early results. This initial subset should enable you to quickly obtain quantified data to illustrate your digital ROI.
We recommend that you not move on to the second and subsequent subsets until you have measured this initial feedback. It will then be fast and easy to trigger a virtuous circle and to encourage other driving forces to join you. By concentrating on projects that are perceived immediately as successful and value-adding, you generate the momentum you were in search of to simplify and streamline your sales department.
For example, start by digitalizing your sales function by testing a Mobile Sales Enablement tool on a pilot group, then make gradual adjustments as you leverage user statistics. You can identify the branches of your tree structure that are seldom used, for instance. This could suggest that the path that leads to it is wrong, that your sales reps have insufficient knowledge about this offer or that the offer is not appealing enough. This is the best way to ensure that everyone takes ownership of the tool and becomes an influencer within your organization.
3. Go Lean when you digitalize your team
Adding a touch of lean management to your digitalization efforts enables you to gradually bend the arc toward excellence. The Lean approach, which is well known in industry, has a digital equivalent; it consists of integrating advanced technologies focused on process effectiveness and a dose of design thinking to capitalize on the customer experience.
Lean digitalization requires total project buy-in, which is contingent on thoroughly preparing for change management, appointing ambassadors, organizing level-by-level training and clearly demonstrating the resulting benefits.
For your teams to go digital, they must participate actively and be able to share concrete information with you about the consequences of this decision. When you value feedback, employ the right tools and honor everyone’s sensibilities, you will be able to take the whole team to a higher level of quality without leaving anyone behind.
4. Measure your ROI and accelerate digital functions
To shift into high gear and plan for large-scale digitalization, take the time to measure and quantify the work performed and the initial results achieved: time savings, increased productivity and effectiveness, sales boost, drop in fixed or variable costs, new business opportunities, etc. I mentioned this earlier, but it is really important. Some gains will always be hard to quantify, such as your salespeople’s self-image or their perception of the company relative to the tools they use. This can result in additional sources of motivation or constitute a new advantage for attracting new talent to join your team. Thus the impact of digitalization can be felt in the peripheral functions of your company with collateral benefits that further accelerate this new process.
The more you digitalize, the more you will need to measure the impact. While some benefits will happen immediately and in the short term, others cannot be accurately quantified until weeks or months have elapsed. Performance measurement is a key factor in guaranteeing the success of your future digitalization projects.
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